Summary: This message is the second in a series through the book of Titus in which we learn how to grow a healthy church.
Growing A Healthy Church
This evening we are moving on and looking at verses 5-9.
Titus 1:5-9- “For this cause left I thee in Crete, that thou shouldest set in order the things that are wanting, and ordain elders in every city, as I had appointed thee:
6 ¶ If any be blameless, the husband of one wife, having faithful children not accused of riot or unruly.
7 For a bishop must be blameless, as the steward of God; not selfwilled, not soon angry, not given to wine, no striker, not given to filthy lucre;
8 But a lover of hospitality, a lover of good men, sober, just, holy, temperate;
9 Holding fast the faithful word as he hath been taught, that he may be able by sound doctrine both to exhort and to convince the gainsayers.
In verse 5 we are given a little insight as to why Paul left Titus in Crete.
Vs. 5- “For this cause left I thee in Crete, that thou shouldest set in order the things that are wanting, and ordain elders in every city, as I had appointed thee:”
Paul tells him that he is to complete what Paul had started…to set things in order. We get an idea that there is a specific structure to what Paul wanted and Titus was given the task of finishing the job that Paul had started. Perhaps part of the job Titus was to do is closely associated with the purpose of Paul’s apostleship that we looked at last week; evangelism and discipleship.
However, Paul does give another instruction in addition to the encouragement to set things in order.
He tells Titus to appoint elders in every city
WHO AND WHAT ARE ELDERS
I want to spend a little time this evening examine what a biblical elder really is. We cannot deny that the Bible mentions elders, we cannot deny that elders served in churches. To say that they didn’t is to ignore the clear words in Scripture. With that being said, what we need is an accurate and Bible based understanding of what the Bible teaches. There are very few biblical viewpoints on elders out there. Baptists have a tendency to over-react to wrong teaching and go to the opposite extreme and in turn have wrong teaching as well, just on the other end of the issue.
So the goal in studying this for a few minutes is not to refute something that we might see as a wrong application of elders or support the historical Baptist view of elders…the goal is simply to look at the evidence in Scripture and see what the Bible says and in turn have a biblical viewpoint of elders. So remove any pre-determined ideas and let’s let the Bible dictate what we believe.
The Terms That Are Used
There are several terms used in the New Testament that point to leadership office of the church. And if we are going to have a biblical understanding of what an elder is we have to understand these terms.
1- Overseer/Bishop- (Episkopos)
2- Elder- (presbuteros)
3- Pastor/shepherd- (Poimaino)
Those are the three terms that are used in the Bible. So let’s examine some of the passages that mention these words and see if they are at all related to each other or if they are referring to separate office of the church.
The first passage is actually here in Titus 1
Vs. 5- “For this cause left I thee in Crete, that thou shouldest set in order the things that are wanting, and ordain elders [presbuteros] in every city, as I had appointed thee.”
Vs. 7- “For a bishop or overseer [episkapos] must be blameless…”
If you look on the screen the you see the two Greek words that are used. So according to this passage we can conclude that:
ELDER (Presbuteros) = BISHOP (episkapos)
So far these two terms can be used interchangeable…they are referring to the same office. A bishop and an elder are the same person.
Turn with me now over to Acts 20:17
Acts 20:17- “And from Miletus he sent to Ephesus, and called the elders [presbuteros] of the church.”
All the elders have been assembled and now are being given instruction. Look down at verse 28 and notice what the elders [presbuteros] are being told
Vs. 28- “Take heed therefore unto yourselves, and to all the flock, over the which the Holy Ghost hath made you overseers [Episkopos] , to feed or shepherd [poimaino] the church of God, which he hath purchased with his own blood.”
So in Acts 20 verse 17 we see that the elders are assembled and are given instruction through the remainder of the chapter. And in verse 28 we see the term overseer or bishop as well as pastor/shepherd. So according to this passage